You can expect to see good football on Sunday’s Super Bowl. There will also be an entertaining halftime performance by Snoop dogg (thankfully, he is well past his Snoop Lion stage) and some tough commercials for anything from Amazon to Vroom (the online auto retailer).
The only thing not being advertised is marijuana. It’s legal for recreational and medical use in 19 states, but it’s illegal in 38. Weedmaps was founded in 2008 by Californian medical marijuana users to locate dispensaries. NBC and the NFL blocked Weedmaps’ attempt to advertise. CEO Chris Beals stated that they would try to push “the dialogue forward about cannabis.”
The Super Bowl broadcasters, NBC and the NFL, ban marijuana commercials. Ironies galore: Since 2017, the Super Bowl has featured hard liquor (an intoxicant even prohibitionists consider more dangerous than marijuana). Other drugs like antidepressants or birth control pills were promoted in the commercials. Super Bowl beer commercials by Anheuser-Busch have their own subgenre. The game’s entertainment is provided by Snoop Dogg (whose name is synonymous for weed).
This year’s Super Bowl is also being played in California. California was the first to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. SoFi Stadium will host the game, which is just one hour north of Weedmaps Headquarters in Irvine. The NFL said last year that it will no longer screen players for marijuana use during off-season. However, THC (pot’s active ingredient) is still prohibited during regular season. NFL players have been known to use marijuana to not only get high, but also to ease the pain of their job. The NFL even funds research to determine the potential health benefits of marijuana, even though it can cause suspensions or expulsions from the team.
Martellus Bennett, a former tight end, claimed “about 89% of players” use marijuana in an interview with Bleacher Report. This was according to a Bleacher Report podcast from 2018. “There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad…You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. You can take anti-inflammatory drugs for so long they start eating at your liver, kidneys, and other organs.
Weedmaps knew its Super Bowl advertisement would be blocked by the network and NFL suits. The whole thing may be just a publicity stunt in that sense. Fox Business’s Beals said that pot’s cultural and legal status was a topic worth being addressed at the federal level. Support for legalizing weed approaches 70 percent, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) Federal prohibition must be ended.
“We see the censorship [of marijuana ads]Beals stated that social media includes Instagram, Facebook and other traditional outlets. Media have displayed a cautious approach to highlighting it and discussing it.
Weedmaps have released a 90 second video to continue that conversation. The video follows Brock Ollie, the company’s “reluctant marijuana mascot”, as he asks the question: “Why is weed being censored?” Broccoli emojis can be used to symbolize marijuana when it is prohibited for people to openly discuss devilish weed.
DraftKings operates an online platform that allows for gambling. This is a controversial industry which was once banned. However, it still has many obstacles to cultural and legal acceptance. DraftKings favors the Los Angeles Rams beating the Cincinnati Bengals at the time of writing. No matter which team takes home the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, TV viewers have already lost out on seeing a commercial about a substance that 50 percent of them have used, employs over 320,000 Americans in its production and distribution, and that generates nearly $18 billion a year in legal sales.
There might even be some moral victories if the Weedmaps censored commercial sparks serious adult conversations about drug policy reform.
Below is an advertisement by Weedmaps.